Bike test

Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Gavin. He broke his journey back to Langholm today with a stop in Fort William. He was in just the right place at the right time to see a steam engine crossing the Caledonian Canal.

We had a warmer, sunnier day today which was very welcome. The better weather let me take my road bike for a thorough test of the new handlebars and saddle. As cyclists will know, both the riding position which is determined by the handlebars and the saddle comfort are key components in the enjoyment of a ride. Saddle soreness can ruin the best views, and an uncomfortable riding position can make cycling a penance, and give you back trouble as well.

I set out to do 100 kilometres (62 miles) with a few hills at the start, and a gentle flattish second half, hopefully with the wind behind me. My new handlebars don’t let me change my hand position so I was very careful to take my hands off the bars (one at a time) and give them a good stretch and shake for a few seconds every mile or so. This worked well, and my hands and shoulders survived the ride without giving me trouble. The saddle turned out to be excellent, and let me sit with as much comfort as can be expected on a longish ride.

I stopped every half hour or so to stretch my legs and back, eat a snack, and take photographs. It was very hazy and not a day for views . . .

. . . so I concentrated on wild flowers in the hedgerows of which there was a plentiful supply.

I noticed the built environment from time to time too.

I made a little diversion near Rockcliffe to the very edge of the marsh at the mouth of the River Eden. I enjoyed a verse inscribed on the wall of the old boathouse there.

I could have no complaints about the roads, which were mostly quiet and picturesque, with hawthorns and green trees on every side.

I stopped to chat to the people at the bike shop on my way back through Longtown, and that combined with my other stops for stretches, sustenance and shots added fifty minutes to my cycling time. I got home in exactly six hours for my 62 miles. The only fly in the ointment was the mean wind which decided to hinder me rather than help me on the last fifteen miles home.

That left time for a walk round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal, who had been busy gardening while I was out.

My day was not over yet though, and after a cup of tea, a shower, and an evening meal of slow cooked beef stew, Mrs Tootlepedal got our electric bikes out of the garage, and we went off to look at a wood on the edge of tow. The Tarras Valley Nature Reserve managers have cleared it after it was substantially knocked down by Storm Arwen. Mrs Tootlepedal was impressed by the scale of the undertaking, and then as it was a lovely evening, suggested that we might like to cycle along the track to Broomholmshiels and come back home by the road.

The electric bikes proved to be well up to the rough track, and it has been so dry lately, that there were only one or two soggy spots where we had to get off and push.

It was a most enjoyable five mile excursion, and it showed that we had made a good decision when we bought the electric bikes.

All this to-ing and fro-ing didn’t leave me much time for the birds, and I found an angry siskin above the seed level when I got back from my longer ride.

The siskin below, who had found a seed or two, was unmoved.

A dunnock, I think, looked on from the holly tree.

Our spell of milder weather looks set to continue. This will keep the gardener very busy as things are growing at pace.

I had no time for a flying bird today, so a rook is sitting in.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

45 thoughts on “Bike test

  1. Bet your glad to get your “proper” bike back again..although ebikes in themselves are great it wouldn’t do to get to used to them,which would be my concern should I ever take the plunge.
    I had covid 4 weeks ago,it was like a really bad cold ,but bad enough to keep me off the bike..general fatigue was probably the worst symptom and I’m only just getting back to normal now..it does seem to affect people in different ways.
    Flat bars for you are a big change which will take some getting used to…I’d definitely try some bar ends so you can change hand positions.

    1. I am sorry to hear about the covid and I hope that you are taking the recovery gently as I hear it can be counterproductive to rush. Bar ends are figuring largely in my thinking.

  2. A long cycle on your own followed by another outing with Mrs T – you display great energy levels! I enjoyed seeing the steam train too.

  3. Congratulations on your long ride and thanks for all the flower pictures both wild on your travels and cultivated in your garden. All a delight to the eye.

  4. There’s just something so lovely and elegant about your cornflower!
    You are to be commended for taking such good precautions with your bike rides. I envy you the electric bikes and the roads that are safe enough to ride them… not to mention the lovely scenes.

  5. Lovely flowers in hedgerow and garden. A magnificent day’s cycling. I’m always amazed at your sustenance breaks because the last thing I could do is eat when running

    1. Cycling is a lot more civilised than running. Running requires concentrated effort, both mental and physical if you are running and not just jogging. Cycling at my age is a stately affair including sight seeing, natural history and food. You would expect to stop for some sustenance if you were running for five hours though.

      1. By the time that marathons became popular, I had wrecked my back cutting peat and had to give up running. There was only one marathon event in Scotland in my running days.

      2. I didn’t start until I was 40 – my best was 3hr 18m. The best indication of fitness was how I was always surprised at the end of a rugby match, when in my 20s I often prayed for the end 🙂

      1. I have woken up in fields and, once, halfway up the stairs, but never a ditch. There is something about the thought of it that makes sobriety seem more appealing.

  6. How fortunate for your friend Gavin to be in pole position to take that great photo. Such stamina to complete that long cycle ride and take those interesting photos of wild flowers and buildings and then go out for another cycle, which was equally enjoyable to view. …thank you!

  7. Comfort makes for anjoyable excursion on a bike. I, too, worry about getting lazy (or should I say lazier) by using my Swytch Bike. But, if it makes my commute quicker then hopefully I can commute the whole way and save on petrol, and do a bit for saving the planet. Depressingly, I believe we’ve missed the boat on that one.

    1. We certainly need a lot more enthusiasm from government, newspaper editors and businessmen if useful change is going to happen. Lone cyclists are not going to make a lot of difference.

      I don’t think that the electric bike is going to make you lazier. Not biking at all would do that.

      1. Yes, the single speed means I still have to work to travel, not having any gears makes an incredible difference even with pedal assist. Hopefully, sobthat I can pare some of this excess flab off. Cheers.

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